Perthshire Advertiser

Dismay as move to end ‘rat run’ ditched

Petition scuppers plan to end‘through traffic’


A Perth pressure group has expressed disappoint­ment that a controvers­ial traffic calming measure in the city has been shelved.

As part of the Spaces for People programme, it had been proposed to prevent through traffic from using Balhousie Street and Hay Street.

The move prompted a petition asking for the council to think again, which was signed by 730 people.

A halt has now been called to the project, which was supposed to get underway this week, and new measures aimed at giving priority to pedestrian­s and cyclists will now be discussed.

But the Perth Area Living Streets (PALS) group said it is “disappoint­ed” that some councillor­s “effectivel­y supported” the petition.

In a press statement, the group said banning through traffic would stop Balhousie Street being used as a “rat run” for drivers, and said the “progressiv­e” plans were “not even given a chance”.

The petition itself states that the move would have increased journey times and created more pollution.

Signatorie­s claim it would add more traffic to roads like Dunkeld Road.

Felicity Graham, co-convenor of PALS, said: “This opportunit­y to clean up the North Inch residentia­l area of pollution and traffic has sadly been squandered.

“Councillor­s could have backed the council’s proposals to make the area safer for pedestrian­s and cyclists, especially for the children walking to school in the area.

“Having quiet, clean, safer streets is not the default in Perth. Residents who want this will have to fight for them and against those supporting the status quo of a city dominated by traffic.”

However, in his response Cllr Forbes said elected members had to listen to their communitie­s and not “unrepresen­tative tiny fringe groups whose membership may not live anywhere near Balhousie Street”.

He said: “From the discussion­s I have had with locals, I believe that the vast majority of them don’t want this street split and three of the four elected members agree.

“I am proud of the huge investment that’s currently being made in Perth and Kinross to encourage active and sustainabl­e travel, such as the developmen­t of Dunkeld Road, numerous 20mph zones, additional cycle ways and extended pavements.

“We must however, in the middle of these huge transforma­tional changes not make the car the enemy. Some people, on some occasions do require to use a car.”

Cllr Chris Ahern said he was never in favour of the move, suggesting it risked “effectivel­y splitting the community in two”.

He added: “I have never said that road calming measures should not be put in place and in fact have agreed with what may be coming forward.

“The ideas that have been suggested will direct cyclists and pedestrian to use the cycle paths and wider pathways of the

North Inch which in my mind is a lot safer, both for cyclists and social distancing.

“The measures will also slow down traffic, preventing them (if they stick to the rules of the road) from speeding along Balhousie Street.

“The 20mph zone will still be in force and the extra measures if they prove successful may be permanent following discussion­s with the community at a later date.”

Cllr Andrew Parrott said PALS was being “a little but unfair” in its comment.

He added: “While City Centre ward councillor­s did collective­ly decide not to go ahead with closing Balhousie Street and Hay Street to through car traffic, we did collective­ly decide on a number of traffic calming measures that we hope will make Balhousie Street and Hay Street considerab­ly less attractive as rat runs and more attractive to cyclists and pedestrian­s too.”

Cllr Eric Drysdale said revised proposals were better: “My priorities will always be safety and well being of local residents and the encouragem­ent of Active Travel where possible, and I think the planned changes will deliver on both objectives.”

Cllr Peter Barrett said he supported the measures, adding: “For such a significan­t change I only received a handful of emails from local residents objecting to the closure and, to be honest, the inconvenie­nce caused was to my mind pretty minor.”

A spokespers­on for Perth and Kinross Council said: “Discussion­s are ongoing with the local elected members to deliver a solution to deterring unnecessar­y through traffic, improve road safety and to provide improved links for walkers and cyclists.”

 ??  ?? Rat runBalhous­ie Street in Perth
Rat runBalhous­ie Street in Perth
 ??  ?? Proposal Hay Street
Proposal Hay Street

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